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If New York legalizes marijuana use, it could create a $3.1 billion market, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told CNBC.
New York state would gain $435.7 million annually in tax revenue for legalized weed: New York City would get about $336 million, he said.
"This is a new revenue stream," Stringer said Wednesday on "Power Lunch." "This is going to impact the kinds of resources we'll have to invest in education, to invest in health care."
In April, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a plan to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Currently, legislation to legalize marijuana use throughout New York is pending in Albany.
In a recent report, authored by Stringer, the comptroller broke down the revenue stream.
Calculating the number of adult pot users in both New York state and New York City proved difficult, since marijuana is currently illegal in the state. Instead, Stringer referenced Washington state and Colorado, two states where recreational marijuana use is currently legal, and adjusted for population size.
Stringer's report said that with 15.1 million adults living in New York state — 6.5 million of them residing in the city — he estimated that between 8 and 10 percent are marijuana users. That's about 1.5 million users throughout the state, or 548,000 people in the Big Apple, the report said. And, based on those numbers, each marijuana user would spend about $2,080 annually on pot — money Stringer said would be filtered back into the economy.
Stringer pointed out that the marijuana market is nothing new — but at least if its legal the state and city of New York have a chance to monetize it in a way that benefits people.
"Let's not be naive," he said. "Marijuana has been around for decades, it's the underground economy. The state and city gets no economic benefit from it. We don't have an opportunity to regulate it."
"We should explore this," Stringer said. "We don't have all the answers. We have a lot of work to do on this."